Dreams, homeschooling and snarliness

After having a heck of a time falling asleep last night, I was awakened at roughly 4:17 a.m. with an elbow to the eye socket.

Jim didn’t mean to do it, and the eye didn’t blacken. (Good thing, because we’re going to a party on Saturday and I would’ve hated having to offer explanations and dodge sympathetic looks.) But after finally getting back to sleep–not an easy thing to do with a throbbing supraorbital process–I was plunged into a horrible "anxiety" dream… really more of an "annoyance" dream than anything else.

I was in a classroom at a church. A stereotypical church classroom, with brown carpet, concrete-block walls and that weird musty smell that only church classrooms recently overpopulated by legions of middle-grade children ever seem to have. And I was stuck in some sort of dreadful "human potential" class with people talking about getting in touch with their inner spirit guides and the Earth Soul and the like.

So I looked around to figure out what kind of church it was, to see if I could speak up against this intellectual travesty without getting beaten. I figured it was probably a Unitarian Universalist church, and they’re cool with pretty much whatever you want to believe (or not), and I could feel myself getting ready to shout "I don’t believe any of this!" Then I picked up a flyer lying on a chair next to me and read the name of the church… it was an ASSEMBLY OF GOD.

Cue waking up screaming. Well, not screaming, but in an absolute pisser of a mood. Which almost kept me in bed for the morning, but then I heard this truly awful irregular knocking noise and I had to get up and figure out what it was. (It was the neighbor splitting wood on his front porch. Blargh.)

Cut to an hour or so later, as I sit at my computer and browse through my regular round of blogs. Notice that the HEM "News & Commentary" blog has a mention of another blogger’s writeup about John and Elizabeth Edwards homeschooling their daughters; click over to read the original post–a newsy and interesting writeup. Then I get to the comments. And feel the smoke slowly start to curl out of my ears.

The Edwardses have chosen to take their daughters out of school and hire a tutor, who keeps the girls on track with their regular public school assignments and is in daily contact with their classroom teachers. They wanted to have the option of bringing their daughters along for multi-day trips on the campaign trail, and they felt "[we] shouldn’t be pulling them out willy-nilly just because that’s a
convenient time for you, even if we could get away with it, it would
leave the impression that our children were entitled to special
treatment and we do not think that
."
And, naturally, someone else "resent[s] this being called homeschooling…. Mrs. Edwards, like most politicians, is trying to win votes with one group (homeschoolers) while not offending another (public school teachers)."

Good. Freaking. Lord.

In my long (ha) and illustrious (ha ha) career as a homeschooler, I’ve discovered that this one thing both sets me apart from lots of homeschoolers and makes me very very angry. I am NOT anti-public school. I do NOT think that people who send their children to public school are somehow failing their children, or that they are not as good of parents as I am.* (In many cases, they’re probably far better parents… sigh.) And I am 100% uninterested in determining for anyone else what homeschooling is or isn’t.

You want to sign your kids up for a virtual school where they’ll learn all about the Babylonian Empire courtesy of Bill Bennett? Fine. You want to send your kids to public school half-days so they’ll qualify for football or cheerleading or whatever else godawful thing I would personally avoid like the plague? No skin off my bony nose. You want to let your kids squander their valuable childhood screwing around with Legos and occasionally reading you a book (as is my unschooly wont)? Swell. You want to hire a tutor for your children to keep them abreast of what’s going on back in their classroom school so you’ll have the opportunity to take them with you on the campaign trail when you see fit? Rock on. But no matter which of these choices you make, someone in the homeschooling "community" is going to make it her (yeah, usually "her") business to snipe at you.

And then when Elizabeth Edwards speaks honestly about what she thinks of homeschooling–namely, that there are some fantastic homeschool experiences and some which are probably less than amazing… oddly enough, I feel the same way–she’s accused of pandering to the homeschooler vote. Derrrr. First off, the homeschooler vote is not really large enough to worry about, honestly. Secondly, most homeschoolers, sadly, are already drinking the Ron Paul and/or Mike Huckabee Kool-Aid. Those who aren’t leaning toward one of these candidates for their own Christian conservative reasons are probably not single-issue voters for whom a candidate’s stated position on homeschooling is going to be a make-or-break deal. (Those would be those of us who are more concerned about things like the economy… health care… Iraq… civil rights and civil liberties… you know, those issues that affect more than one-half of one percent of American families.**) And thirdly, as I think I might have implied above, the hard-core politicized homeschooler crowd is so inflamed by anything they see as an intimated criticism of homeschooling that they would vote against, not for, anyone who suggested that perhaps raising your children to be ignorant of any scientific or historical fact that contradicts the Bible in any way is less than a wonderful thing.

So I guess now I have to turn in my Real Homeschooler ™ badge. That’s OK… maybe Elizabeth Edwards will send me a Real Crankypants ™ badge to make up for it. I think that one would look better pinned next to the "WTF?" button on my jacket anyway.

*I think there is no way to give this last clause perfect singular-plural-subject-verb agreement all around without introducing far too many prepositions to the mix. Go ahead and try it if you like.
**this figure is 100%-guaranteed pulled out of my butt

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Homeschool, Pointless Rants, Politics, Things That Happened. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Dreams, homeschooling and snarliness

  1. COD says:

    They would never give you a real homeschooler badge to begin with. You are, however, certainly entitled to the Evolved Homeschooler Badge. Help yourself at
    http://odonnellweb.com/wiki/pmwiki.php
    I’m ignoring any implied connection you might have been making between homeschoolers drinking the Ron Paul Kool-Aid and myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Helena says:

    I must admit I laughed at the dream. That’s quite detailed.

  3. RedMolly says:

    Ha ha ha, Chris. I understand & respect that you have valid non-homeschooling-related ideological reasons for drinking the Ron Paul Kool-Aid. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And Helena: yeah, I’d laugh if someone else told me they’d had such a dopey nightmare, too. But you don’t know how scary the concrete-block classrooms at First Baptist Church can really be…

  4. Cory says:

    Thanks for stopping by my page! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I know when I started homeschooling I was quite surprised by the venom with which some families discussed anyone who didn’t do things exactly as they did. Shocked would be a better word. Because part of the reason I started homeschooling was that I didn’t like the forced conformity and intolerance of the public schools I have had dealings with. And it seemed like I was entering a world of the exact same thing.
    Thank goodness for the internet because I learned that not all homeschooling families are quite so militant about their positions. I found that my son and I will *never* fit in with any homeschooling groups here in West Virginia because we don’t #1. Hate public school kids and want to make fun of their parents or #2. Teach creationism. But, we still find lots of people to connect with that just happen to live somewhere else…so it’s all good ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great post, btw. Although your dream has me a bit scared to turn off the lights :-p

  5. I suspect that Mrs. Edwards has some other things on her mind than worrying about offending homeschoolers. I heard her talk a while back when she announced their decision to pull the kids out, and it was very matter-of-fact, no fanfare, just, you know, this is our reality, this is what works for us. I’ve said before that if she could run personally, she’d probably have my vote. In the meantime, I’ve signed a “bring back Al” petition, and taken a few tentative sips of the Ron Paul Kool-aid.
    Perhaps the world would be a better place if only someone would officially sanction a curriculum based on Legos. Parents would relax, secure in their knowledge that the kids are doing REAL schoolwork. And the kids… well, you know, you put them in a room with a bunch of Legos, and it’s magic.

  6. Lori V. says:

    Rock on, Pal o’ Mine! You forgot to add this in the “Biting Social Commentary, Sorta” Category. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Big Hugs from the Big Hair, Big Truck, Big Red State!

  7. Mrs. C says:

    I have two children in public school and two are homeschooled. So I can’t see that I’d be rabidly “anti-public school;” however, I think Mrs. Edwards is really just doing public school at home with a tutor and it really IS a bit of a stretch to call it “homeschooling.” I mean, yeah, it’s school, and it’s at home, but that’s about as far as it goes.
    The Edwards family has plenty of money and they can do whatever they want with it. Cool for them, but bet you if Edwards ever got to be President he wouldn’t vote for us po’ folks to have vouchers, school choice, or even a choice of whether we want to send our children to school at all.
    And also… bet you they would NEVER send their children to DC public schools. The Clintons sure didn’t. I hear too much from the “left” (if you will) about universal preschool, more money for public schools, more testing blah blah. And I hear too much from the “right” (if you will) about the merits of NCLB and how vouchers are gonna fix everything, but no real workable system in place to implement them, where that money is coming from, and what they’re going to do with this vast infastructure we call the public school system.
    Mrs. Edwards has the money and who could blame her for hiring a tutor and not teaching her children herself while she is battling cancer? But if you re-read the last part of article she says she has a great education but she’s not “qualified” to teach her own children. Is she implying we shouldn’t be educating OUR children without the proper state certification?? Maybe I *am* reading too much into the statement and grant you, her HUSBAND is the candidate. But none of the Democratic nominees for President strike me as terribly homeschool-friendly.
    I wouldn’t expect her unqualified support of ALL homeschoolers (NONE of us is that nuts!!), I would think she could say SOMETHING that would qualify as a statement of support. It couldn’t have killed her to say something like, “Most homeschool families do a great job and I’m glad it’s an option here in America.”
    After all, it’s the homeschoolers who have lobbied for laws that make HER childrens’ tutoring situation possible. (Or homeschooling, or whatever you want to call it.)

  8. Becky says:

    (Just to be ornery, I think the Edwardses are hs’ing one boy and one girl.)
    I read the article the other week and didn’t get past getting woozy at the idea of a completely outfitted hs’ing room in a separate building. In my dreams…
    (My husband elbowed me in the eye the other night. Is there a full moon or something?)

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